DIY – New Seat Cushions for Old Patio Chairs

I finished a few DIY projects this past summer for my sister who moved back to our home town about a year ago and bought a new, old home three blocks from me.

One of the first projects I worked on was for the shirt pillows that she placed on a porch swing in her newly remodeled three-season room.

Shirt Pillows on porch swing

This former screened in porch is on the back of her new, old home and is the rear entry. The problem she had with this room was that it provided little in the way of protection from rain and snow which resulted in people (and the dogs) tracking in all sorts of stuff directly into her kitchen.

The solution was to change out the screens for real windows, adding walls, and a real locking door creating a more useful room which can now be used for more of the year and serves as a mud room before entering the house.

She re-purposed the bamboo window shades which were on other windows in the home (they fit perfectly!). She added a wood floor over the sub-floor and painted it in the two shades of green that she used in her kitchen. Don’t you love the diamond pattern? The walls are a subtle shade of yellow.

It’s the perfect room to hang out for morning coffee!

Except that she needed a table.

She found an old metal patio at a local resale shop for a very reasonable price. I’m sure it was so reasonable because the chairs were the old style ones with removable seat cushions with not-so-lovely fabric covers.

They had to go.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (1)

Since I am the one who likes to sew, this became my project. I have never recovered patio seat cushions or sewn anything with a fabric cord edge although I have recovered leather seats for kitchen chairs. Same principle, but more sewing was involved.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (2)

Here is the seat cushion. The plan was to remove the fabric and use it as the pattern for the new covers.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (3)

This involved removing the staples holding the fabric to the wooden frame.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (4)

Here are the pieces all taken apart. The wooden frame was good on three of the chairs, but broken on one of them. DSH had a guy at work cut a new one to size. We re-used the foam, but had to buy some new fabric cording since these cushions were so old that the fabric and cording was falling apart. The cording cost less than $5.

My sister had part of a bolt of thinner, slightly stretchy denim which we decided to use to cover the cushions. Since the table will be inside, the fabric did not have to be waterproof.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (5)

I laid out the pattern, pinned, and cut four sets of fabric for the four seat cushions.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (7)

Here are the pieces cut out. Two pieces per chair – the seat and the edge.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (6)

Make sure to iron the wrinkles out of the fabric. It is much easier at this stage then later on.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (11)

Using another seat cover as a guide, I pinned and sewed the pieces together. The trick at this stage was to start pinning at the center of the front of the cushion and work around each half to meet in the middle at the back. You want to hide the seam at the back of the cushion and work with any issues there rather than in the front.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (9)

I also started sewing in the center of the front and worked around to the back. So you will sew half and then go back to the front and sew the other half. Again, this was so any issues that you needed to work with would be in the back of the cushion.

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Sewing the fabric cord edging was actually not as hard as I expected. It involved an extra sewing step along the side edge of fabric. I just followed the design used on the original seat cushions although I suspect there is more than one way to do this.

Again, I worked from the center of the front of the cushion which meant I did half and then went back to the center front to do the other half.

Closing the back edge was the most complicated part of the sewing. My first attempt was not my best effort, but since this part is at the back of the cushion, it is not readily visible and most of it is hidden under the seat back.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (11)

Take the completed seat cover and place over the foam. Then turn upside down.

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The hard back will be the underside where you will staple the new cover onto the old cushion. Start at the corners and pull taut working back and forth from opposite side to side until fully stapled. We kept turning it around to make sure that the edging was along the edge and not being pulled off to the side too far.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (18)

And old and a new seat cushion side by side. I’m sure the yellow flowers were beautiful in their day. The new look is definitely more modern, but still in keeping with the style of the new, old house.

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And here is the seat cushion back on the chair. What a difference! And they are very comfortable to sit on, too.

Patio Chair Cushions Recovered (19)

Here are the chairs with their new seat cushions. I love the round, blue rug on which the table and chairs are centered.

I can’t wait until my sister gets the rest of this room decorated so I share the final results, but it’s already a nice place to sit and share a cup of coffee in the morning.

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